Male to get $500m more for bridge, ferry | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, August 14, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, August 14, 2020

INDIA’s BID TO BOOST TIES WITH MALDIVES

Male to get $500m more for bridge, ferry

India yesterday pledged $500 million to build bridges and causeways in the Maldives, as New Delhi seeks to counter growing Chinese influence in the Indian Ocean.

The Maldives borrowed billions of dollars from Beijing and hired Chinese firms for infrastructure projects under previous president Abdulla Yameen.

This stoked concerns in India and the West that China was saddling countries in Asia and beyond with unsustainable debts while expanding its sphere of influence.

Under the new Maldives government, India has sought to regain influence in the archipelago nation located on major East-West shipping lanes.

The new investment announced takes India's total pledged outlay to over $2 billion since President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih came to power, India's foreign ministry said.

Maldives Foreign Minister Abdulla Shahid said the new money was part of a financial package to build bridges and causeways linking the capital Male to three neighbouring islets. "Once completed, the project will be the single largest infrastructure project in the Maldives," Shahid added.

It was not clear how long the new project would take.

Shahid also said his Indian counterpart Subrahmanyam Jaishankar in their talks yesterday had pledged $250 million to meet urgent needs and support efforts to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

"There has been a reset in our relations," an Indian diplomat said after the bilateral talks via video conference.

"In the last one-and-a-half years, President Solih and his government have acted on its 'India First' policy in right earnest. In line with its 'Neighbourhood First' policy, India has worked proactively to deepen its ties with the Maldives."

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